I'll start by saying I'm not entirely sure what the alternative is, just to get it out of the way. I also apologize for the length of the thread and if you rather skip to the end and mock my insanity feel free.
But one thing that has bugged me since the release of the game is that the BOFF science abilities are largely either foreign to Star Trek lore or abilities that should belong to other department.
What I mean by this is abilities, that to the best of my knowledge are not actually apart of any of the Star Trek television series or movie. To my eye 10 Science BOFF abilities are simply taking creative license they are as follows:
Polarize Hull: This was an ability used before the advent of deflector shields, during the era of Enterprise and the NX class.
Transfer Shield Strength: This should really just be emergency power to shields and is an engineering ability. Additionally it adds a damage resistance which isn't to cannon.
Charged Particle Burst: Disables cloaking device, which I don't recall being done. Something like a tachyon detection grid, which I believe is a console ability already exists for making cloak detection easier, but again don't recall an ability to disable a cloaking device.
Energy Siphon: Sending out a probe to drain an enemies power levels. I seem to recall an episode of TNG using a feedback pulse for this reason but not sending out a probe.
Photonic Officer: To me is an ability separate from having an actual photonic officer like the Doctor from Voyager and since there were never real cool downs wouldn't be a needed ability. I suppose as a way to add some realism, you could change the name of the ability to mention 'bio-neural gel packs' which featured on Voyager as a way to speed up operations or cool downs in game terms.
Scramble Sensors: Again I never recall there being a probe capable of causing an enemy to fire on one of it's allies. Jam Sensors seems familiar as a way to confuse the enemy from attacking the player.
Tyken's Rift: Featured in an episode of TNG, but it was a natural phenomenon not one created by a ship.
Gravity Well:Like the Tyken's Rift is a naturally occurring phenomenon and not something a ship could generate on it's own. There is a singular mention of an artificial gravity well, being located in the engine core of a Romulan Warbird, but not something projected into space.
Photonic Shockwave: This can be done by detonating a photon torpedo with an energy beam. This could be visually represented rather than what is currently done, which is just a blast projecting from the ship, and could potentially have a more tactical advantage. But it seems it would also be more of a tactical ability.
Viral Matrix: Again this is not an ability, launching a probe to shut down an enemies systems, that I recall being used. The probe from ST IV 'The Voyage Home' shut down power systems and you could potentially use that as the basis for this ability, if it were explained.
There are one or two engineering and tactical abilities that seem out of place but for the most part those skills are true to Star Trek cannon. Again I don't see a easy resolution to this. Most of what were science abilities were in the range of scanning the area for enemies, communications, programming probes for various uses. The role for science officer was more in gathering information, analyzing and interpreting that information for the captain. I think you'd have to try and play up the advanced technologies aspect of a science vessel and figure out a way to create abilities that play up that advantage.
The science officer would have far more practical and useful benefits in a actual star ship than they do during the heat of the battle. I also understand needing to have a healer/wizard option as a standard for MMOs but it seems to be the least Trekie option in this game when really it should probably be the most featured along with engineering.
Additionally abilities like tractor beams, tachyon beams, hazard emitters would be handled by engineering.
I don't know anyone else's thoughts on that, my main character is science which is why I was thinking about it. I suppose my gripe really is that the abilities given to science officers are generally not based in the Star Trek lore, or would be the responsibility of another department. It feels like science is included just because there needed to be a third option, which is odd given that probably the second most known Star Trek character, Spock is a Science officer.
Again I don't really have a solution, just griping mostly. Thoughts? What kinds of science abilities, based in Star Trek lore would you want to be included and how might they be incorporated within the game in a balanced way?
Charged Particle Burst could be explained as releasing a bunch of charged particles in all directions, and if those particles were to hit an object (such as a cloaked ship) the ship that launched and tracked the particles would detect the collision and therefore know an object was located at that point.
We also have a sort of canon example of Gravity Well in the form of Spock's Red Matter probe, used to deal with a supernova.
For Scramble Sensors, since ships rarely if ever have an actual visual mode of detection (the viewscreens were still based on scanners), they must rely on IFF transponders and scan images of ships. If someone managed to confuse those transponders and scanners, it could result in targets "switching sides." I realize this is a weak defense for the ability, it's the only thing that really comes to mind.
I haven't looked closely at Energy Siphon's visuals for a while, but I thought it was a beam fired from the deflector, not a probe?
From Memory Alpha regarding Hull Polarization: "In the 24th century, starships still occasionally polarized their hull plating, though not typically as a defensive countermeasure. One example was disrupting an enemy's tractor beam by rotating the frequency of the hull plating's electromagnetic field. Ships also sometimes polarized their hull plating to help mask their sensory signature, which worked by interfering with the enemy's sensors. (DS9: "In Purgatory's Shadow"; VOY: "Equinox, Part II")"
For Viral Matrix, transmitting a virus to another ship in order to mess with their computer systems seems like a pretty good plan, given that they rely entirely on those systems for pretty much everything. It's not so much the basic concept as a delivery method and reuse. How would you get something to the ship to deliver the virus? Direct transmissions wouldn't likely work, I'm sure that form of electronic warfare would have been dealt with very early with this sort of technology level. And you can't usually use the same virus twice, same as in current day computers, since anti-virus software gets updated to deal with new threats all the time. Again, from Memory Alpha: "In 2154, the warp matrix of the Enterprise was compromised by a subroutine planted by a group of Klingon Augments. The subroutine also compromised the starship's command protocols. (ENT: "Affliction", "Divergence")
Prior to his open defection to the Maquis in 2372, Michael Eddington planted cascade viruses in Deep Space 9 and the USS Defiant's computers. This allowed him to disable the Defiant at a critical time. Fortunately, Odo was able to find and delete the one in the station's computers before it could be activated. (DS9: "For the Uniform")"
As for the others, no quick defense comes to mind, but we already know STO had to play loose with canon for the sake of gameplay, and if science was left with only the above then they wouldn't have enough abilities to go around. Tyken's Rift, at least, comes from canon as a natural occurance, and could be explained away by the advancement of technology leading up to STO.
Last edited by jbmaverick; 11-29-2012 at 08:35 PM.
Interesting points, but I think the link between the game and TV/movie is intermittently strong and weak at the same time.
Some abilities listed may never have been seen or done on the show ... but for game purposes were incorporated by order of what career seems most appropiate. Launching probes seems like a "science" thing versus a combat (re: tactical) role. Creating rifts, gavity wells, or phonotic doohickey likewise would require a level of technical expertise not congruent to "engineers", per se.